Commentary: The Surprising Resilience of Cash Transactions
On Jun 27, the ATM turns 50. It was once described by central bank officers as the “only useful innovation in banking”. But today, the cash that ATMs dispense may be on the endangered list.
Cash is being displaced in so many ways that it is hard to keep track. There are credit cards and electronic payments, mobile payments services, cryptocurrencies that operate outside the purview of central banks and localised digital wallet apps such as India’s Paytm and Bangladesh’s bKash. These innovations are encouraging cashlessness across communities worldwide.
It is reasonable to expect cash to follow the path of other goods that have been replaced by digital alternatives, such as photos, music and movies. The key question then is, will cash – and the ATMs that dispense it – disappear from our neighbourhoods?